Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Keble, Thomas

KEBLE, THOMAS (1793–1875), divine, younger brother of John Keble [q. v.], was born at Fairford on 25 Oct. 1793. Like his elder brother, John, he was educated entirely by his father, and was elected at the same early age (fourteen) Gloucestershire scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on 31 March 1808. In 1811 he graduated B.A., having gained a second class in classics and a third class (then called a second below the line) in mathematics. He was ordained deacon in December 1816, and priest in 1817. From the beginning of 1817 to the end of 1818 he had the parochial charge of Windrush and Sherborne, Gloucestershire. In the autumn of 1819 he became college tutor at Corpus. At the time he headed the list of scholars, and, according to a contemporary at Corpus, accepted the post reluctantly, after several previous refusals (Life of Phelps). In 1820 he became probationary fellow, and while residing at Oxford as tutor shared with his brother the curacies of East Leach and Burthorpe until 1824, when he became curate of Cirencester. In 1827 he was instituted to the living of Bisley, Gloucestershire, then a scattered parish with a number of outlying hamlets filled with a very poor and neglected population. He persevered, in spite of many discouragements, in improving the bodily and spiritual condition of the people, and there are now three consecrated churches with districts assigned to them taken out of the old parish, besides a consecrated chapel of ease with a conventional district. His whole thoughts were absorbed in his parish. He was one of the first in England to revive the daily service in church, both morning and evening—a feature in his parish work which is made the subject of a beautiful poem by his friend Isaac Williams (see Thoughts in Past Years, 6th edition, lines entitled ‘Table Talk in 1828,’ under the head of ‘The Side of the Hill’). The example set at Bisley was followed, through Isaac Williams, at St. Mary's, Oxford, and Littlemore, and thence spread through England. As Keble's health was weak, his parish work left him little time for literary labours; but he was highly valued by many friends, and his judgment on spiritual questions was always received with deference by his elder brother. He died on 5 Sept. 1875, and was succeeded by his son (also Thomas Keble), the present vicar of Bisley. In 1825 he married Elizabeth Jane Clarke, daughter of a former fellow of Corpus, afterwards rector of Meyseyhampton.

Thomas Keble wrote four of the ‘Tracts for the Times,’ viz. Nos. xii. xxii. xliii. and lxxxiv. The first three belong to the ‘Richard Nelson’ series, which was afterwards published in a separate form. He also wrote forty-eight of the ‘Plain Sermons,’ the publication of which in connection with the ‘Tracts’ was probably first suggested by him. His own contributions are those marked E in vol. x.; he also wrote several in vols. i. ii. and iv. He translated the ‘Homilies of St. John Chrysostom’ on the Epistle to the Hebrews for the ‘Library of the Fathers,’ the translation being revised by J. Barrow. He published a short tract, ‘Considerations on the Athanasian Creed,’ in 1872, and a preface to ‘Short Sketches of the Fathers of the English Church,’ by Francis Philip.

[Private information from Sir George Prevost, the Rev. Thomas Keble the younger, and the president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; Hole's Life of Archdeacon Phelps; Coleridge's Memoir of John Keble.]

J. H. O.